Students wear white to signal next stage in dental education

(Edmonton) For University of Alberta dental students, wearing a white coat means they’ve entered a point in their education where they will start the clinical part of their training and become an integral part of delivering patient care. On May 1, the 12th annual white coat ceremony was held for the second-year dental students.

Each year, the students look forward to receiving their white coats as they get to put their first two years of learning into action.

“The ceremony symbolizes a move towards patient care,” said Paul Major, lead of the U of A’s School of Dentistry. “We hope that once the students step into the role of a clinician, they will feel a sense of accountability and awareness that they are now part of an integral team of health-care practitioners providing care to people in need.”

Alan Kilistoff, associate chair of clinical affairs for the school, led the charge to the students. “My charge to you is to continue to grow and enjoy helping people,” he said. “As Benjamin Franklin said, ‘Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.’ Remember to respect yourself, your family and friends, those around you, and especially the people who entrust their health to your care.”

On behalf of the class of 2015, Christina Chow and Kevin Luft, second-year dental students, accepted this charge.

“The journey to get here has harboured a great respect for the privileged position that we are in,” said Chow. “As we begin this next stage of our education, we must take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to professionalism. Humbled by the trust that our patients place in us, we must care for them with integrity, respect, honesty and compassion.”

“Our patients will be real people with real needs,” said Luft. “No longer can we screw in new teeth if we mess up, or rest our elbows on our mannequins’ faces.” He added that “never will we have the opportunity to learn from such knowledgeable instructors in the type of setting that the U of A dentistry clinic provides.”